OTTAWA, October 28, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) will continue its partnership with Free The Children in spite of a group of parents who urged the board last month to cut ties with the charity due to its and its founders’ support for contraception and abortion.
The OCSB said it decided to continue the partnership after receiving the following written communication from Marc Kielburger, co-founder of Free the Children:
“Free The Children does not partner with development organizations or other international agencies which are in direct conflict with Catholic teaching. Furthermore, Free The Children does not endorse, advocate, counsel, fund or perform abortions in any way in any of our project countries.”
In a letter to Andy Pocrnic, representative of Parents As First Educators, who spearheaded the charge to have the OCSB distance itself from Free the Children, Mark D. Mullan, OCSB Chairperson, thanked Pocrnic for “bringing your concerns to the Board.”
“I trust that the above information will help clarify our involvement with Free The Children,” he stated in the letter obtained by LifeSiteNews.com.
Pocrnic called the board’s response “very discouraging”.
Pocrnic presented evidence to the board on September 24 that the Keilburger brothers’ charity is not in line with Catholic moral teaching, thus making it an inappropriate partner for a Catholic institution.
It is no secret that the Kielburger brothers have campaigned to make “reproductive health services.” In an opinion piece written on Mother's Day, 2011, titled “A Mother's Day Manifesto” the Keilburgers criticized government cuts to the world’s largest abortion provider – Planned Parenthood.
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“And as women in developing countries fight for reproductive rights, our now Conservative majority government is poised to cut funding to International Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides reproductive health services abroad. It's a paternalistic refusal to offer women in Africa the same rights offered to women in Canada,” wrote the brothers at that time.
Free The Children produced a fact sheet for youth on “maternal health” prior to the 2010 G8 and G20 meetings. It denounced Canada’s Conservative government at that time for refusing to fund abortions in its G8 maternal health initiative claiming that there is a “consensus that family planning, including abortion, is crucial to reducing maternal deaths and improving the economic status of women in the poorest parts of the world.”
The fact sheets were immediately deleted after LifeSiteNews spotlighted them in a report. The organization claimed they were produced in error.
Pocrnic had also asked the OCSB to examine Free the Children’s position on contraception to determine if it corresponded to Catholic teaching. The board however did not address this concern in the Oct. 8 letter to Pocrnic.
“Of course it is noteworthy that they didn't address the topic of artificial birth control or condoms in their response. If Free the Children was in harmony with Catholic teaching in these areas, they surely would have said so to make us go away,” said Pocrnic.
“It appears the board has chosen to dig their heels in when it comes to not addressing these issues. Surely they must know how bad it looks to stonewall ratepayers asking straightforward questions that pertain directly to board policies and Catholic morality. And yet, they chose to do so anyway. Why elected trustees would choose to tie their reputations to this particular charity, when it is so very obvious they are offside, is difficult to explain.”
Last week Ottawa’s Archbishop Terrence Prendergast urged schools under his watch to choose teachers, guest speakers, and partners who are models of holiness and who fully embrace the culture of life.
“Guests and partners must give an authentic Catholic witness that will inspire and encourage, not a counter-witness that will discourage and confuse,” he said at the Archbishop’s Benefit Dinner Oct. 16 attended by numerous school board representatives.
“No matter how great their achievements in politics, business, sports, science, or the arts, we should not invite to our schools as guest speakers, or give awards to, those who provide a counter-witness to the Gospel.”
Prendergast warned that if the schools are not “fully Catholic” they risk descending into “demonic worldliness.”